April 1995 Augusta, Georgia /
Masters Tournament

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Wet grass under my shoes. Sitting here on the veranda under the umbrellas waiting for the fog delay to end. The white metal lawn chairs, distinctive access only for the most elite. Clean air, clear. It is peaceful sitting here being away from the crowds of Augusta. Separated by a lone white rope and Sports Illustrated press credentials.

Old and new. The Masters Tournament and the veranda are symbols of tradition and an elite class system. Bart, the waiter serves my breakfast. Until recently there were only blacks in these yellow ochre short coats. Now there are white waiters. And women.

And women can now go up into the clubhouse and overlook the umbrella-ed international scene from the porch.

This is totally a guy’s event; guys only. I don’t see many women.

Only ‘trophy wives’, too blonde, too rich, too thin. ‘Business guy types’ rule. Guys in corporate logo visors, ‘if you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time.’ Would be wannabe golphers all wearing the same clothes:

Short sleeve golf shirt, 2-tone bucks, or black and white cleats. Leather. Crisp white button down shirts ties Bermuda shorts cardigan sweaters. Patterned vests.

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The British guys sit near me smiling. (So unlike the pony-tailed brash Americans, “Geez, you’ re really sweet honey” Leering even though they have wedding rings, talking loudly, closing 2-color, 4-color printing deals under the tree.) No, the Welsh, the British are free and easy. They are happy to be here and more at ease with the tradition. They expect ceremony; grace rules.

Wealth and separation by a class system is expected. They seem used to it. Their voices the reverent way they speak about the sport, ‘their golfers’, the language of kings. Class.

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As Americans we are too young a country to grasp tradition, we just don’t get it.

My men friends ask excitedly, ‘The Masters Tournament?! You need anyone to carry your bags?”

All these people stamping around in the rain. $40 dollars for an umbrella. Gene Sarazen signing an old copy of his golf book. Old and new, old and new. History already made, history being made.

Then the tournament begins. The first pairing tees off. They have their photos taken with the big green -jacketed official from the Masters. Everything is recorded. Arm in arm for the clubhouse photographer. Smile, then tee off in the mist.

It ‘s apparent when you see them swing and hit the ball just how good they are. I can’t imagine the pressure of standing dead quiet over the ball in front of a crowd of people and then just whacking away accurately, once, to get it up and onto the fairway.

Must be maddening.

© 2017 Lynn Pauley